Knights Fall in Five to Florida State

ORLANDO – The Knights (8-1, 2-0) looked like they were going to make quick work of Florida State at their place Friday afternoon, but the Seminoles had other plans.

After taking the first two sets, 25-22 and 27-25, UCF would go on to lose the next three straight to fall to Florida State, 3-2. It was UCF's first loss of the season, moving the Knights to 8-1 on the year.

"I thought we really kept the pressure on Florida State in the first two sets," said head coach Todd Dagenais. "I give them a lot of credit for being resilient and not backing down. The third set, I thought we let up just enough, and they [Florida State] kicked it up about five notches. It was a five-game loss you would much rather have now in the middle of the season than at the end of the season that sends you home."

The first set was as close as they come. After falling behind 17-14 and calling a timeout, the Knights fought back to tie it at 18. Still tied at 21, Tali Marmen secured a clutch kill to give the Knights the lead and UCF would finish strong from there, scoring four out of the last five points to win the set, 25-22.

Set two started off just as close. Tied at 13, the Knights outpaced FSU 6-1 over the next seven points to take a solid 19-14 lead, but the Seminoles answered with a five-point run of their own to tie it at 19 and force coach Dagenais and the Knights to call time. The two sides continued to battle and were tied once more at 25 before McKenna Melville and Tali Marmen each recorded a kill to give the Knights the 27-25 set victory.

The Knights hit a wall and could not get anything going in the third set, losing 25-11 before putting up more of a fight in the fourth. UCF seemed to be much more in control of things in that fourth set, even taking a 20-19 lead into the later stages of the set, but the Knights just couldn't finish it off, dropping the set, 25-21 to send the match to the decisive fifth set.

"I thought we had our opportunities in the fourth set and we were in a great spot to win it, we just didn't have the mental toughness that Florida State showed. I hate to lose these because we felt like it's a match we could have won," said Dagenias. "Give Florida State credit for coming back and winning it. We feel like it's a match that we could have won too."

By the time the fifth set came around, Florida State had all the momentum. The Seminoles went up 8-3 in the first half of the set and held on, going on to win by a final score of 15-6 to win the match, 3-2.

Three different Knights turned in double-digit kills in McKenna Melville, Tali Marmen and MaKenzie Chambers. Marmen's 17 kills are her season-high, while Chambers' 10 are tied for her season-high as well. With 18 kills and 10 digs, Melville turned in her fourth straight double-double.

[On what he learned about the team]
"It was disappointing not to execute with the pressure really on us, but it's also a great learning experience for a lot of the players on our team about what it takes to be in the right mental frame of mind and execute when you have that pressure on you."

[On the positives]
"We didn't back down. That was a gigantic team, and they are incredibly physical, but we didn't back down from it. We took the fight to them for two sets. I thought they [Florida State] handled the pressure of the moment and being down much better than we handled the pressure of being up."
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